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Run to Failure: BP and the Making of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster Hardcover – March 26, 2012


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Run to Failure: BP and the Making of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster + Drowning in Oil: BP & the Reckless Pursuit of Profit + In Too Deep: BP and the Drilling Race That Took it Down
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (March 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393081621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393081626
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Refreshingly different... Run to Failure reads like a thriller, com­plete with whistle-blowers and double agents... Lustgarten paints a picture of neglect, hollow proclamations about safety and environmental stewardship, and draco­nian cost-trimming going back two decades." - Nature, March 8, 2012.

A "scathing expose." - Reuters, March 12, 2012.
 

"A gripping account of a catastrophe foretold, Run to Failure explains not just why the spill happened, but why it didn't have to. It should be required reading in boardrooms across America," - Elizabeth Kolbert

 
"This often breathless account is a wakeup call, and affords a timely consideration of the nature of international business and its relationship to government." - Publisher's Weekly.  

About the Author

Abrahm Lustgraten is an award-winning reporter for ProPublica and a former writer for Fortune. He covers energy and environmental topics, including natural gas, renewable energy, water resources, and energy policy. He is a winner of numerous prizes, including the George Polk Award for environmental reporting, the Stokes Award for best energy writing, a Sigma Delti Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and several awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists.  Lustgarten has appeared frequently on national media to discuss energy issues, including NPR's Fresh Air, Rachel Maddow, and Hardball with Chris Mathews. In 2004 Lustgarten recieved a grant from the MacArthur Foundation to support his international reporting in China and Tibet, a project that led to his first book, China's Great Train. And his work on BP, which led to his second book Run To Failure, was nominated for an Emmy after it aired in a PBS Frontline documentary. Lustgarten lives in San Francisco, CA. 

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Customer Reviews

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Everyone in the Oil and Gas industry should read this book.
jpd
If you are short on time, Frontline's documentary The Spill will give you a taste of BP's lame safety culture leading up to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Roberto Perez-Franco
Really insightfully written I was surprised that Bp even agreed to let it be published..
Everette Webb

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Roberto Perez-Franco on June 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
How a culture of corner-cutting and wishful-thinking spawned a disaster in offshore drilling
[Review published in MIT's The Tech]

The horrifying image of a muddy column of oil rushing incessantly from the earth's guts into the deep blue waters of the Gulf is forever branded in my memory. As I watched in disbelief the live video feed from the bottom of the sea, showing the Macondo well vomiting poison into the ocean, week after week, impervious to the incompetent attempts of BP to kill it, there was one question that kept bouncing in my head: how on earth did this happen?

Abrahm Lustgarten, an award-winning environmental journalist and recipient of the MacArthur Foundation's "genius grant," has the answer. His devastating exposé of BP's abysmal safety record details the role the company played in what is arguably the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Run to Failure, Lustgarten's recent book, deconstructs how the Deepwater Horizon "accident" was decades in the making, how short-sighted managerial decisions led to a culture where rhetoric ("safety remains our number one priority") cloaked sloppy operations for the sake of profit. The story unfolds like a train wreck in slow-motion, from the rise of John Browne as The One inside British Petroleum in the late 1980s to the moment Andrea Fleytas radioed "Mayday!" from a burning platform in the Gulf on the night of April 20, 2010. The conclusion is as damning as it is terrifying: The great 2010 oil spill was the direct result of BP's quick and dirty approach to business. And although it was utterly avoidable, a similar or worse disaster may happen again.

Although Lustgarten divides his book formally into three parts, it makes more sense to think of it in two blocks.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Everette Webb on November 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Really insightfully written I was surprised that Bp even agreed to let it be published..I found it had a lot
of information about what happened on the deep water horizon rig..
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Tschinkel on August 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is as about multiple failures, not just that of BP. It is principally about the failure of BP leadership to properly understand it's own business. It is about a failure of leadership on behalf of corporate leaders at BP and management. It is also about the failure (or if not failure, the limitations) of government. And it is about how capitalism can fail us.

The author, to his credit, has not written some left wing/anti-capitalism polemic which is why this book is so important. It is thoughtful and has a snappy pace.

And, it is balanced (as much as a book can be when NOT A SINGLE BP executive allowed himself to be interviewed for the book.) The author mentions on several occasions that other petroleum & energy companies, such as Exxon (yes, Exxon, reformed since the Valdez spill in 1989) have corporate cultures which really do aim to minimize environmental impacts by placing real emphasis on best health & safety practices.

It is also important reading if one wishes to understand how difficult, how complex, how dangerous and how massive the pursuit of petroleum is in today's world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steve Dietrich VINE VOICE on October 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
At one level this book is a great history of the events leading to the disaster in the Gulf; however, its real message is the increasing danger posed by quarterly results driven management management by mandate. Although not highlighted in the book, the way too close relationships forged by former politicians and political administrators is apparent from a deeper read.

The book documents a cultural fixation on short term earnings with little regard towards safety or long term profits. Operating, maintenance and quality control budgets were routinely subverted to the need for reportable earnings. On the north slope it meant neglect or the corrosion management and inspection programs and operating shortcuts in the oilfields. The highly predictable results were higher worker injury rates, pipeline failures and ultimately huge expenses to repair damage that could have been prevented.

Unfortunately today far too many senior managers are slaves to budgets that are driven from the top. It's not just the oil industry, across America you can see examples of how short term cost cutting is sacrificing long term interests. It's not just corporation but schools, governments, utilities and others have allowed the infrastructure to decay to the point of added costs and risks.

An interesting contrast to the culture of BP is our military. Young Marine officers are taught to listen to their non-commissioned officers. The Gunny (Sargent)is one of the most respected members of the Corps. Gen Colin Powell had a great presentation on management in which one of this rules was to believe the people in the field (rather than headquarters) in the absence of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TopCat19 on March 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A very readable and informative book. I usually have two or three books going at any one time, and whichever one I pick up depends on my mood. However, from time to time I run across a book that really grabs my interest and I will put down whatever else I'm working on and focus on that one book. This is one of those books. I had already read one account of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, and I was initially unsure if I wanted to read another. This is different in that the author goes back a number of years and examines other instances of BP cost-cutting and mismanagement (most notably their Alaska Pipeline management and the Texas City refinery explosion), so by the time the narrative arrives at the Deepwater Horizon affair (which actually comes somewhat late in the book) the outcome comes as no surprise. By going back and looking at other events, the author puts the Deepwater Horizon accident into the context of a continuing pattern of poor management at the highest levels of the company, where their short-sighted policies resulted in a cascade effect of poor decisions all the way down to the operational level. I don't consider myself a radical environmentalist or a "drill baby drill" oil at all cost person, but this book was a real eye-opener, and I was already somewhat familiar with the oil industry in general and several of the energy companies in particular. This is a very worthwhile read.
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